Thursday, August 10, 2017

Forecasting Outbreaks—1 Image at a Time

An image from a Landsat satellite of Brazil, where the Amazon flows into the Rio Negro and Solimoes River.
Credit: Descartes Labs

Public health is like your plumbing—you don’t notice it until it’s broken. And when those safeguards and policies put in place to keep our communities healthy and strong are broken, the results can be devastating.

Take, for example, Haiti in 2010. Ten months after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, a cholera outbreak spread throughout the country. By the end of 2011, more than 500,000 people had been infected and 7,000 were dead from the disease. In west Africa the Ebola virus killed more than 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016. (Full story)

Scientists probe the conditions of stellar interiors to measure nuclear reactions

For the first time, scientists have conducted thermonuclear
measurements of nuclear reaction cross-sections
under extreme conditions like those of stellar interiors.
Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

In a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration between the fields of plasma physics, nuclear astrophysics and laser fusion, a team of researchers including scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Ohio University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), describe experiments performed in conditions like those of stellar interiors. The team's findings were published today by Nature Physics.

The experiments are the first thermonuclear measurements of nuclear reaction cross-sections - a quantity that describes the probability that reactants will undergo a fusion reaction - in high-energy-density plasma conditions that are equivalent to the burning cores of giant stars, i.e. 10-40 times more massive than the sun. These extreme plasma conditions boast hydrogen-isotope densities compressed by a factor of a thousand to near that of solid lead and temperatures heated to ~50 million Kelvin. These also are the conditions in stars that lead to supernovae, the most massive explosions in the universe. (Full story)

Biosurveillance Integration: Coverage from the Biodefense World Summit

Alina Deshpande, PhD, from Los Alamos National Laboratory spoke about “Tools and Apps to Enhance Situational Awareness for Global Disease Surveillance.” This was particularly interesting as right away I was curious what exactly “situational awareness” meant in this situation. Drawing on a classic definition that included the perception of the elements in one’s environment within a given time and space, Dr. Deshpande’s talk centered around the analytics used for investigating a disease outbreak, specifically how one might contextualize the outbreak.

She remarked on how there are two functionalities at play during an outbreak: understanding the unfolding outbreak and learning about representative global historical outbreaks. These two components aid in short-term forecasting and help provide structure as an outbreak begins to unfold. (Full story)

LANL Foundation Awards $61,298 In Education and Community Grants

The LANL Foundation awarded 26 grants totaling $61,298 to support education and community programs in Northern New Mexico during the second-quarter grantmaking period.

Sixteen programs received $37,000 in Education Outreach funding that directly supports kindergarten through 12th grade public school children. An additional 10 Community Outreach Grants totaling $23,798 were awarded to programs aligned with the LANL Foundation’s mission and vision of innovative programming, collaboration, and advocacy for lifelong learning but are not directly tied to kindergarten through 12th grade public education. Early childhood, adult learning, or community events are a few focus areas that fall under this category. (Full story)